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The sell-off started in the United States on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones seeing a more than 800 point drop during the session, its third biggest single-day point fall in history.

During the regular session, the S&P 500 marked its biggest daily percentage fall since February 8 - 3.3 percent - and Nasdaq registered its biggest fall since June 24, 2016 - 4.1 percent - as rising U.S. Treasury yields sent investors fleeing from risky assets. A lot of that was because of the so-called FAANG stocks - technology names such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google - flying into turbulence on Wednesday.

"Clearly stocks are spooked by higher rates and maybe some inflation that seems to be creeping in", said Michael Farr, CEO of Farr, Miller & Washington.

The Dow slipped 831.83 points, or 3.15 percent, at 25,598.74, the S&P was down 38.36 points, or 3.28 percent, at 2,785.68 and the Nasdaq was down 315.97 points, or 4.08 percent, at 7,422.05. All 30 of the Dow's stocks were in the red and it fell below 26,000 total points for the first time in a month, CNN reported.

Oil prices fell more than two percent as US stocks plunged, even though energy traders anxious about shrinking supply from Iran due to US sanctions and kept an eye on Hurricane Michael, which closed almost 40 percent of US Gulf of Mexico output.

Sears Holdings nosedived after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing that could come within days.

Technology shares tumbled on fears of slowing demand, while bond yields ended lower after seeing multi-year highs earlier this week.

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Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.18-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.32-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 109 points, or 0.4%, to 26322 shortly after the opening bell.

The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 3.22 per cent from 3.20 per cent late Tuesday after earlier touching 3.24 per cent. The broader S&P 500 was down 47.07 points or 1.63 per cent, heading toward seven-week lows. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, a USA benchmark, fell 2.1 per cent to US$73.36 a barrel - and the discounted price of Western Canadian Select oil widened to US$47 a barrel.

Investors may want to shift out of momentum and into more defensive stocks - companies that aren't as expensive and also pay healthy, stable dividends. Heating oil fell 1.2 per cent to $2.39 a gallon.

The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of technology companies, suffered its biggest loss in more than two years and has dropped nearly 8 percent since the start of October. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.22 percent. Silver dipped 0.5 per cent to $14.33 an ounce.

Gold rose 0.2 per cent to $1,193.40 an ounce. Copper fell 0.9 percent to $2.78 a pound.

The CAC 40 in France dropped 2.1 percent, Germany's DAX lost 2.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.3 percent. The euro rose to $1.1525 from $1.1496.


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